September 21, 2023

Wanderlust – Historic Savannah, Georgia

by Sonya Lavett

Having grown up in Alabama, it is truly surprising that it took me 41 years to finally visit this beautiful city. While it was a shorter trip than I anticipated, I made the most of what precious, little time I had and enjoyed walking around the city, seeing the sites, and savoring the food.

Question: How much can one see of Savannah in just 36 hours? Answer: As much as humanly possible.

My colleagues and I had the pleasure of eating dinner at Corleone’s Trattoria, an Italian restaurant that placed as much care into the visual experience as they did the flavor. I ordered the seafood kabobs, which arrived at my table hanging from a vertical iron hook-like contraption, with a wine cork stuck to the end to hold my tasty sea scallops, shrimp and peppers in place; unique is definitely the word I use to describe this beautiful dish. And believe me, it tasted as wonderful as it appeared.

After dinner, as I strolled through the city with my colleagues, the summer heat took a turn toward a summer storm with fat drops of rain and dangerous lightening. Not wanting to get stuck in the storm, we quickly found cover in this very cool refuge called the Tree House. It is located upstairs with two outdoor, covered balconies attached to the main floor. This is where the live music happens six nights out of the week and provides an excellent view of City Market and all that goes on at street level. The music was amazing, the crowd was loving it, and the cover actually did give me the feeling that we were all cozied up in a tree house. Pretty spectacular actually, and apparently, they do not charge admission for enjoyment of the live music . . . ever.

I was so sad to miss out on an opportunity to take a carriage ride around town and learn more about Savannah’s history. The city also offers ghost tours with a historical emphasis, but with the hot, rainy nights, I was not able to find an opening for dryer weather. This only makes me want to go back when it is not quite so hot and rainy, for there is surely so much more to see, enjoy and learn.

The Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist is something that you do not want to miss in your travels. This immaculate cathedral began with a dream by Haitian and French immigrants hoping to escape from poverty and war in the late 1700s. Compared to the grandiosity of today’s cathedral, the original structure was much smaller. In the 1800s, new land was chosen, the cathedral was expanded, and has remained a cornerstone of Savannah despite substantial damage from fire and hurricanes throughout the years. It is truly breathtaking to experience, and while many couples hope to be married in the magnificent cathedral, there is quite a waiting list. So, if you are even thinking about getting married in the next few years, go ahead and sign up now.

One of the coolest features of Savannah by far, aside from the beautiful architecture, riverfront views and incredible food, is its people. The mixture of ethnicities, ages, and cultures definitely brings an eclectic air to the city and is what gives Savannah the bulk of its character.

One truly extraordinary character is a six-year-old Savannah boy who has caught the attention of the whole country. Perhaps you have heard the story of little Jaden Hayes and the rough time he has had in the first several years of his young life. Having lost his father when he was just four years old, he recently lost his mother, as well. Fortunately, he has a loving aunt who stepped in to make sure that Jaden has all of the love, attention and support that he needs to become a happy and successful adult.

While Jaden still mourns the loss of his parents, he refuses to allow his sadness to take over. Observing that there are far too many “sad people in the world,” Jaden decided that it would be a great idea to help alleviate some of the world’s pain, at least in Savannah. At his request, he and his aunt purchased some rubber duckies and toy dinosaurs to hand out to strangers in downtown Savannah. His rationale is simple yet beautiful; Jaden just wants to put a smile on people’s faces. Who could not resist smiling at a sweet six-year-old boy who offers complete strangers toys for no other reason but to make others happy?

The people, the food, and the history are definitely worth the trek to visit Savannah. Who knows, perhaps while you stroll the city you will be fortunate enough to run into Jaden or catch a ghost out of the corner of your eye while on a historic carriage ride.

Happy travels!